While a couple of underdogs did manage to look more Goliath than David (without his sling), for the most part this week the favorites held serve. Folks in Lubbock and Knoxville take no solace in moral victories this week, but Salt Lake City is riding high.
Once again, if you're curious about methodology, well, there isn't really one. I'm sort of following what I understand of the committee logic (and, refresher, remember from last year's ranking series that I'm more or less on board with the committee) and as a tiebreaker using a completely subjective "who would win on a neutral field" test.
Our Playoff Teams
- Ohio State - The Buckeyes logged a desperately-needed easy win over short-list denizen PJ Fleck's overmatched Western Michigan squad. They'll (finally!) open Big Ten play this weekend at Indiana. Kevin Wilson, do your thing.
- Ole Miss - Were in a real dogfight with Vandy, with a late score making the 27-16 final look much more comfortable than most of the game actually was; Derek Mason seems to have the needle pointing up on the Vanderbilt defense. Ole Miss travels to undefeated Florida this weekend.
- Michigan State - Logged a rather uninspiring win over Central Michigan, holding a scant 17-10 lead through three quarters before pulling away. And their "good win" over the Ducks looks a lot less impressive right now; more on that in a bit. I wanted to drop them below the Irish but, given the week Notre Dame's opponents had, I couldn't justify it. State will cower in fear at The World's Largest Drum™ this week.
- Notre Dame - The Minutemen showed some early fight, but CJ Sanders's electrifying punt return touchdown broke their will and it was off to the races from there, as the Irish broke the 60 point barrier for the first time since Lou Holtz's last season. Also, the 457 rushing yards amassed were better than half the total output of the 2007 season, which never happened, but if it did would've featured 903 rushing yards. By the entire team. For an entire season. Which never happened. Anyway, they face a stiff test next week in South Carolina's Death Valley, against Clemson.
Our Near-Future Playoff Teams
Because, let's be honest, we all know this thing is going to eight teams sooner rather than later.
- UCLA - Whoa. This was one of those surprising beatings - not that I thought they wouldn't win, but I didn't see this coming: a 56-30 final over Arizona that wasn't as close as it looked. UCLA was up 42-14 at halftime and absolutely put it in cruise control the rest of the way. Arizona's no world-beater, sure, but that's a resume win at this point and UCLA makes a big jump from #8 last week. They host Arizona State this week, themselves reeling from a beatdown at the hands of USC.
- TCU - There but for the grace of God... The Frogs seem to be living on borrowed time, giving up 52 points to Texas Tech but winning on a tipped pass. They host Texas this week, who lost in brutal fashion for the second week in a row. Could the Longhorns be ornery enough to topple TCU?
- Georgia - Hammered something called Southern 48-6, with a 28-0 third quarter removing any semblance of suspense. Nick Chubb, as we've noted here before, is good. They'll host Alabama this week in a game that should tell us a lot about both teams.
- Utah - The Utes authored what was unquestionably the most shocking result of the weekend, obliterating Oregon 62-20. Yes, Utah treated Oregon the way Notre Dame treated UMass. In fact, our game is actually a pretty good analogy for how the game went. This game also featured possibly the most awesome fake punt return I've ever seen. This is a program win for Utah, and probably the signature win of Kyle Whittingham's career. The Utes will relish this win over some tasty cheeseburgers this week.
The Best of The Rest
- Florida State - The Noles were off this week and, unfortunately for them, cheeseburgers harmed them here as they were jumped by Utah. They'll travel to Wake Forest this week.
- Alabama - Beat Louisiana-Monroe 34-0. Yawn. As noted above, they'll play between the hedges this week in one of the marquee matchups of the weekend.
- LSU - Went on the road to Syracuse - I think they're the only SEC West team to play a game north of the Mason-Dixon for the last 20 years, and they do it every so often. They still play their share of tomato cans, but they deserve credit for making road trips to places like Syracuse and Washington. Anyway, the Fournette Heisman Inevitability March trundled along as the Tigers held off the Orange.
- Clemson - The Fighting Dabos were off this week. Their last game was a Thursday night affair, which means by the time they kick off against Notre Dame on Saturday it will have been 16 days since their last game. I don't think that'll be helpful.
- Baylor - The Bears are 3-0, yes, but via SMU, Lamar, and now Rice. Double yawn. They'll host Texas Tech this week, who lost that heartbreaker to TCU a week after beating Arkansas. Yes, Art Briles, you should be nervous.
- Texas A&M - Outlasted Arkansas in a road overtime win, dropping one of the most punchable faces in sports to 1-3. #Karma, Bret. #Karma. The Aggies will host Mississippi State this week, who just put another shovelful of dirt on Auburn's season.
- Oklahoma - The Sooners were off - as in not playing, not as in not on - and will host West Virginia this week.
- Northwestern - Had all the could handle from Ball State, which should make Wildcat Fan a little nervous (he's a distant relative of Stanford Fan). They'll host Minnesota, who played TCU close in Week 1, this week.
- Stanford - You know, Stanford is very much in for the Pac 12 North title. After dropping their opener on the road at Northwestern, the Cardinal cruised past UCF, upset USC, and now took Oregon State behind the woodshed. They'll host Arizona, who was just humiliated by the Trojans.
- USC - Speaking of whom... Their game against Arizona State reminded me a lot of Notre Dame vs. BYU in 2006 - just quick hit after quick hit after quick hit, with Arizona unable to stop it. Kessler was near-perfect on short wide throws, and decidedly blah everywhere else. This was another surprisingly definitive result, and assuredly a tough one for Todd Graham to swallow. The Trojans are idle this week.
- Temple - The Owls were off this past weekend, and will travel to Charlotte this week..
- Oklahoma State - Trailed Texas after three but just managed to pull out the win. They'll host Kansas State this week in the Wildcats' conference opener.
- Wisconsin - Knocked off Hawaii, who may be angling for Big Ten memberhsip, 28-0. They'll host 4-0 Iowa this week.
- Michigan - Much as it pains me to put them here, I have to if I'm being honest. Their loss in the season opener to Utah looks a bit better now, and since then they've logged convincing wins over Oregon State, UNLV, and now BYU. Damn it all. They open conference play with Maryland this week.
- Cal - Eh, what the heck. Fresh off their victory over Texas (with some deus ex machina help, sure, but still), they stared down Chris Peterson's improving Washington squad. They host the Good Ship Leach this week.
- Mississippi State - The Bulldogs beat a staggering Auburn team, two weeks after taking LSU to the wire. Maybe they're alright again... They'll get to prove themselves on the road at Texas A&M this week.
- Florida - Don't bet anything on these guys just yet; a close win over Kentucky and a miraculous win over Tennessee say there may be room for skepticism. But somebody has to fill out this slot, so here they are.
The Walk of Shame
Oregon. The vaunted Ducks attack looked like it didn't belong on the same field with Pac 12 red-headed stepchild Utah. A 42-point loss? Yikes. Some deep soul-searching in Eugene right now. Hey, Oregon, you might be able to bring Chip Kelly home soon!
Georgia Tech. Thanks for the big solid, PJ, in getting owned by Duke. Maybe this is really his revenge against VanGorder.
BYU. Definitely didn't see that coming - down 31-0 at halftime to Michigan, which ended up being the final as well. I feel like there's a joke here about them still having hope late because a Hail Brigham Young pass can bring you back from a multiple-score deficit, but it's not quite coming together. Discuss amongst yourselves.
Arizona State. Holy crap, man, cover the quick hitch. Also, they were running inside early for probably 8-10 yards per carry - and proceeded to kill drives by passing. I'm not a #RTDBK type by any means, but I'll never understand that kind of playcalling. Maybe Graham's Britney Spears headset was on the fritz.
Arizona. Not a good week for the Grand Canyon State, whose co-flagship football teams both were embarrassed. UCLA took it easy on Rich Rod's squad and still had 56 points - not a good sign.